The process sociologist, Norbert Elias (2012:89) maintained that Caxton’s comment in his fifteenth century treatise on courtesy that ‘things that were once permitted are now forbidden’ could stand as the ‘motto’ for the European civilizing process that was to come. The main course of development which would revolve around the formation of modern states and the significant pacification of the relevant societies shaped different related spheres of social interaction. According to Elias, they included the standards that governed bodily functions, changes in table manners and (of particular importance for the present discussion) shifts in emotional responses to cruelty and violence. His writings were less consistent on the subject of whether actions that were once permitted in relations between states have become forbidden in the most recent phase of the modern states-system. The main objective of the following discussion is to synthesise elements of process sociology and the English School in order to determine whether the current era is distinctive if not unique. The paper begins with a brief discussion of Elias’s reflections on international relations.
Political scientists are increasingly interested in popular culture. Notably, films appear as reflections of social and political developments as well as mirrors of common ideologies and fears. In his article ‘Neoliberal Nightmares’, Japhy Wilson (2015) brings forward the argument that the increasing popularity of gothic themes like the zombie apocalypse, could be interpreted as a reaction towards the financial crises of 2008; according to his article, neoliberalism died but is risen from its crave, scary as it was and hungry for the consumption of human flesh. This is a popular view on the current zombie hype and it is convincing at first. In contrast to Wilson´s view, this article highlights another interpretation of this hype: Zombies are the projection of international terrorism. Therefore this article argues that we are much more scared by things, which take our system into question than by the system itself. In doing so, this article argues, contrary to Wilson’s interpretation, that the zombies hype is part of a social and political anxiety from terrorism and not the anxiety due to the capitalist system. It will be also argued that fear is a recurrent topic in popular culture. ‘Zombies’ are an expression in a long tradition of fearful (international) events – like 9/11 – but also refer to the age of bio-political control.
Keywords: Zombies, popular culture, terrorism, bio-politics
Imagine a market where you have a high misallocation of commodities; this market could be the global food market. More than 150 years ago Karl Marx asked the question, why the classical economy of his time had such problems to properly explain the reasons for dysfunctional markets. The work of Marx and Engels turned the 20th century into a kind of stone quarry, where different ideological directions made use of the theory, and often misused it at the same time. This paper wants to introduce the reader to some of the core ideas of Marx’s ‘Capital’, and also illustrate how lectures – in the case of Marx – can utilise the popularisation of public media for teaching purposes. This paper introduces Marx’s idea of ‘commodity’ in the context of interviews from the popular Austrian documentary ‘We Feed the World’. By using the current global agriculture production as an example, the paper examines an urgent problem of global politics on the one hand. On the other hand, the paper aims to illustrate how the idea of joining Marx’s theory with an actual documentary can be used in order to introduce one of the core thinkers of political economy to undergraduate students.
Keywords: Karl Marx, Capital, Documentary, We feed the World, Teaching